Welcome to a new theme where I’ll be discussing obstacles I’ve faced during my writing journey. Some of you may never experience them, others may use this as a guide for how to avoid them. Most likely, I’ll just be here to vent, lol. 😀
One thing all writers love ranting about is…
Revisions are a common chore in a writer’s life. We revise our works numerous times between the rough drafts and publishing. The type of revisions I’m covering today are those that authors make AFTER their book is already published.
Why would a writer revise their book when it’s already on the market?
In my experience, this comes down to two reasons.
- The book is older, wasn’t edited or written as well as it could’ve been, and therefore hasn’t been selling.
- The publisher has gone out of business, so the book is no longer available for purchase.
When I first started publishing, I never thought I’d succumb to the temptation of the #1 reason. Yet admittedly, I have.
Opting to Revise
Over the last year, I’ve decided to revise one of my older stories. My first thought was honestly just to replace the covers. That’s not an uncommon practice for authors, old or new. I’m constantly getting newsletters from my favorite authors showing off new covers for their books.
It took a few years of low-to-no sales and a couple of unfavorable reviews to realize that my covers weren’t targeting the right readers for their genre. The story is Paranormal Erotic Romance, but it’s only been drawing the erotica crowd, who then complain about the paranormal aspect. So, I knew that new covers were necessary.
Then, there were complaints about the story being three novellas—the first two ending in cliffhangers. Even though this is a common practice, readers feel it’s to ‘force’ them to buy more books. That’s not an inaccurate assumption, usually. But it bothered me because that wasn’t why I had published them that way.
Unfortunately, it’s a career-killer to reply to reviews, so I couldn’t explain to these disgruntled readers that I hadn’t been able to afford to pay for the editing of a 110,000+ word novel all at once, and that’s why it got broken up into three shorter novellas.
I’m not in that situation any longer. So, being the self-inflicted masochist I am, I decided to combine the three novellas into one full-length novel, on top of replacing the cover. Easier said than done. Due to how the novellas were written, that required revising the entire story from start to finish.
I’m happy with the end result, though. I love the new cover and believe the freshly polished and combined story reads ten times better than before.
Then, I had to tackle the #2 reason because a year or so ago, my publisher closed for business.
Revising as a Necessity
When I got the rights back to my books, I was on Cloud Nine. I celebrated the day here on my blog loudly and vigorously. I’d been having trouble with my publisher for years, so was ecstatic to have full control of my books for the first time.
Of all my finished novels, those five are the oldest. I had a publisher for three years before attempting the self-publishing route. And since it took a lot of rejected submissions before landing a publishing contract, the books were even older than that. I signed that contract in 2013—nearly a decade ago.
Then, my publisher sat on some of those books for almost four years before publishing them.
Needless to say: they’re not my best work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in love with the stories and their characters. But as every writer does, I’ve spent the last decade learning, observing, and refining my craft.
I knew they needed to be revised, polished, and re-edited, and I’m legally bound to replace the covers since the originals belonged to my publisher.
Just recently, I happily announced to a friend that I’d finished revising and re-editing the first book—which happens to be part one of a duet. Then, as I was rechecking a detail for accuracy, I stumbled across an unexpected obstacle.
Every real business I named and detailed in these two full-length novels no longer exists. I’d written them so long ago that the places have gone out of business or were sold and renovated with brand new names.
I went from excited about being finished to utterly deflated. I was thinking: Holy bejeebus, Batman! 45% of my material is inaccurate and needs to be replaced???? Gah!
(If you suspect the real thought was far less PG, you might be my spirit animal).
So, if I want the books to take place in the present-day (which I do), I will need to go back and re-read both books from start to finish, revising every name and detail that’s no longer valid. As any writer can probably attest: I DON’T WANT TO READ THIS STORY AGAIN!
It would be one thing if the businesses were mentioned only once or detailed in one scene. Unfortunately, a good majority of both books’ scenes take place in a specific hotel that doesn’t exist anymore.
Switching hotels means I have to revise the name, interior details, what street it’s on, and how the parking is set up. I never realized I had written so many scenes dependent upon valet parking—which none of the other real-world hotels in that area have.
So, I’m torn between replacing every detail with another factual location or just making up a fictional name and leaving all the details as is.
Full disclosure: I’m not really torn. As I wrote that sentence, I knew I’d go for the second choice because I’m lazy. 😉
But that just proves that venting can be both cathartic and enlightening. I’d completely forgotten that making sh*t up was even an option, despite how often I do it.
Thanks for the unintentional help, friends! Until next time…
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❤ What unexpected obstacles have you run across while revising?
❤ Would you ever revise one of your published books?
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